Try this 3-day 1200 calorie diet plan

Looking for sample menus for a 1200 calorie diet plan? This 3-day diet plan packs a lot of nutrition into 1200 calories.

A 1200 calorie diet plan calls for some careful planning – not that higher calorie level diet plans don’t – but when you only have 1200 calories to work with and you want to hit all your nutritional targets, every calorie really counts. This 1200 calorie sample diet plan gives you 3 nutrition-packed daily menus to follow.

Related Article: How to jump start your diet: 10 tips you need to know

Who should choose a 1200 calorie diet plan?

A 1200 calorie diet plan would be appropriate for an adult woman who gets little to no activity and who desires weight loss. If this applies to you, I recommend that you start with a 1200 calorie plan, but that you also begin a regular exercise program as well. A 1200 calorie plan may also be appropriate for small-to-medium framed women over the age of 50 who are only lightly active. This calorie level is probably too low for most men.

A drop of no more than 2 pounds (1 kg) per week is considered a safe rate of weight loss. If you are losing weight more quickly than that, move up to the next highest calorie level. If you are losing more slowly, you should not eat fewer than 1200 calories per day – instead, you need to step up your activity level.

1200 Calorie Diet Plan Overview

This plan calls for three meals and two snacks each day. Here is the basic breakdown for the 1200 calorie diet plan:
Breakfast: 1 Protein + 1 Fruit (+ vegetables if desired)
Lunch: 1 Protein + 1 Vegetable + Leafy Greens + 1 Taste Enhancer
Snack: 1 Protein Snack + 1 Fruit or Vegetable
Dinner: 1 Protein + 1 Starch/Grain + 2 Vegetable + Leafy Greens + 1 Taste Enhancer
Snack: 1 Fruit
Daily Totals:   3 Protein, 2-3 Fruit, 3-4 Vegetable, 1 Starch/Grain, 1 Protein Snack, Leafy Greens – no limit, 2 Taste Enhancers
I’ve structured the diet this way so that your meals and afternoon snack will be evenly spaced throughout the day, providing the proper nutrition to help keep your energy level up. However, feel free to move foods around if it suits you better. For example, if you feel that you need a snack mid-morning, you can move the evening fruit snack to the mid-morning instead. As long as you don’t exceed the daily totals for each food group, you’re good!

Take a look at myHow to Create Your Own Sample Diet Plan” article which provides all the details on portion sizes for each food group. This will help you when it comes to designing your own 1200 calorie diet plans. Also, you can always swap out one or two meals for a Herbalife Formula 1 Healthy Meal Drink or an Express Meal Bar if you’re on the go or don’t feel like cooking from scratch.


3-Day Menus for a 1200 Calorie Diet


  • 1 cup (250g) nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup (80g) strawberries
  • Sprinkled with cinnamon
Large salad made with:
  • 1 ounce (30g) soy nuts
  • 1 fresh apple
  • 4 ounces (100g) grilled salmon with lemon
  • 2 cups (160g) steamed green beans with garlic
  • ½ cup (150g) cooked brown rice
  • large leafy green salad – any amount
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) reduced calorie salad dressing


  • 1 whole egg + 4 egg whites scrambled in nonstick pan with pan spray
  • Topped with tomato salsa
  • 1 cup (80g) cut melon
Veggie stir-fry.  Saute together:
  • 5 ounces (125g) firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup (80g) broccoli florets
  • Large bunch fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) oil to stir-fry
  • Season with soy sauce, garlic, pepper and ginger
Grain salad with protein. Toss together:
  • 4 ounces (100g) grilled shrimp
  • ½ cup (150g) cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups (160g) chopped mixed vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumber, onion)
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) reduced calorie vinaigrette dressing
  • Place on a bed of leafy greens
  • 1 fresh orange


  • 1 cup (250g) plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Sprinkle with nutmeg
  • 4 ounces (100g) grilled halibut
  • 1 cup (80g) steamed asparagus with lemon
  • Mixed leafy greens salad – any amount
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) reduced calorie salad dressing
  • ½ cup (125g) nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup (80g) chopped mixed raw vegetables
  • season with salt, pepper, dried dill or chives
  • 3 ounces (85g) grilled lean steak
  • 2 cups (160g) roasted Brussels sprouts (halve, toss with olive oil, roast at 400 F / 205 C for 20 minutes)
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) olive oil (for Brussels sprouts)
  • Steamed kale, spinach or Swiss chard with vinegar – any amount
  • ½ small sweet potato sprinkled with ginger
  • 1 cup (80g) diced fresh pineapple.

Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.

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